Cleantech startups put their technologies to real-world tests

Wegaw, Synhelion and Rigitech are accelerating the transition towards green energy. The startup’s technologies have advanced and are now being tested for the first time with leading organisations or used to deliver results to facilitate decision-making in renewable energy strategies.

Synhelion has developed a solar thermal process for producing synthetic fuels that do not require electricity. The unique technology uses high-temperature solar heat to produce syngas, which is then used in standard industrial processes to synthesize liquid fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, or diesel, that are compatible with conventional jet engines and internal combustion engines. Such Sun-to-Liquid fuel closes the CO2 cycle, as it releases only as much CO2 during its combustion as was previously used for its production.

After the successful production of solar syngas for the first time in the ETH Zurich laboratory, the startup made technological advancements in cooperation with Wood, one of the world’s leading providers of consulting and engineering services in the fields of energy and environmental technology. Wood supplies Synhelion with its proprietary reforming reactor in which the syngas is produced.

First production on industrial scale
Synhelion has now become the first company in the world to produce syngas on an industrial scale using only solar heat as an energy source, reaching a key milestone in scaling up the Sun-to-Liquid technology. As a next step, Synhelion is now building the world’s first industrial-scale solar fuel plant, also in Jülich, which will demonstrate the entire process from concentrated sunlight to liquid fuels on an industrial scale. This plant is being implemented as part of the SolarFuels project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The plant is expected to be commissioned as early as 2023, and Swiss International Air Lines will be the first airline to use solar kerosene.

RigiTech – tests for tests drone delivery service
Breaking through significant technical and regulatory limitations, RigiTech’s Eiger logistics drone performed the inaugural flight of a delivery route to the offshore substation of a wind turbine park off the coast of Denmark. In partnership with Danish autonomous systems operator Holo, the Eiger is providing energy company Ørsted and multinational logistics company DSV with a transport test to support the maintenance of offshore wind farms. The drone took off for the first time from Ørsted’s warehouse in Greena, landed on the offshore substation of the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm in the Kattegat strait to deliver spare parts, and flew right back to the warehouse. In a world’s first operation of its kind, the delivery route is being operated fully remotely from Holo’s main office in Copenhagen via RigiCloud, RigiTech’s proprietary software. RigiTech’s solution makes it possible to carry out multiple flights during the same day, carrying spare parts and needed tools thanks to its large payload bay and 3 kg capacity and shorter delivery times with a range of up to 100 km.

This operation showcases some of the innovations we’ve been working on to increase automation and integration into general aviation, which are the keys to scaling drone-based delivery,” says Adam Klaptocz, CEO of RigiTech. “The flights show the first technologies that we’re building to help the offshore and maritime industries can potentially become greener and safer. Partnering with logistics giant DSV will allow us to deliver these innovations at scale.“

Wegaw Feasibility Study ­- Space for Hydro Energy Sector
Wegaw offers a cost-effective solution that empowers hydropower companies with invaluable insights through which to further reduce runoff errors and, consequently, further reduce the errors in water inflow predictions, which would lead to greater sustainability opportunities and additional revenue generation per power plant annually. The startup collaborates with Enel and ESA on a new Snow Water Equivalent feasibility study in Italy with Wegaw’s satellite-based snow monitoring solution. The primary aim of this work is to support Enel in further improving its understanding of snow dynamics to maximize the optimization of the hydropower system in the north of Italy.

Photo: RigiTech’s new route to the Offshore Substation at Anholt Offshore Wind Farm, controlled remotely from Copenhagen.